Photo via Shutterstock

Singapore has been blanked by a thick layer of smog, which could last for weeks, due to record high levels of air pollution and forest fires started by land-clearing farmers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The city’s smog level peaked at 371 on the Pollution Standards Index, breaking all previous hazard levels and records. The thick smog, which is said to smell of burned wood, has blanked the city led to unhealthy and hazardous air quality conditions, according to the National Environment Agency. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that the toxic conditions could last several weeks.

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The smog has led to a war of words between Singapore and Indonesia, with the former accusing its neighbour of endangering its citizens. Singapore’s environment and water resources minister has demanded “definitive action” from Jakarta. In response, Indonesia has dismissed any and all accusations, saying Singapore was “behaving like a child” and the smog was “because of nature.”

Similar smog levels occurred in 1997 and 1998 due to Indonesian fires. Like the current event, air and ground activity was disrupted and millions became ill. It led to an agreement on trans-boundary haze pollution being approved by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), but Indonesia has yet to ratify the agreement.

While it is still unknown precisely who is responsible for the fires, Indonesian officials are accusing foreign palm oil investors, including Singaporean companies, for the smog. Singapore’s prime minister said satellite data would be used to help identify who was responsible for the fires. Any Singaporean companies that are responsible will be heavily fined.


Second photo by Flickr user St.A